farms need cities

February 3rd, 2016

farms need cities

Most people would agree that outside the city limits, there should be rural, green space. It’s important for agriculture, for wildlife, and for us to experience our natural landscape.

The Oak Midges Moraine Act [2001] and the Greenbelt Act [2005] together protect 69% of York Region’s land. Considering York Region’s fast growth, the remaining 31% needs to be carefully planned, with higher density in the cities.

Farmland has changed in Ontario over the last several decades, with fewer, larger farms and more technology used for efficient production. Wildlife has changed too, with York Regional Forests in place and more awareness of our impact on nature. But one thing that hasn’t, and likely won’t, change is that wildlife and farms need cities to grow in place, without expanding into the countryside.

This is where new urbanism and transit-oriented development come in. They’re about planning the best ways for a city to grow, and ensuring there’s a variety of housing and employment, and transportation options like bus rapid transit and subway. Building where we already have development makes a lot of sense. It keeps urban, urban and protects rural from becoming suburban. It also creates a focused city centre that attracts people to do business or shop, all of which is supported by great transit to get around.

Using the land we already have in York Region’s cities and towns is smart and it’s sustainable. If we stick to this plan we’ll be watching population grow in our vibrant cities, and trees and crops thrive in the country.

 

2015 >> Davis Drive – messy to marvelous!

January 26th, 2016

2015 >> Davis Drive – messy to marvelous!

Davis Drive has seen remarkable changes in 2015. New vivastations, sidewalks, intersections and paving signaled a new beginning on Davis, allowing Viva yellow to take people where they need to go quickly, connecting to Highway 404, GO service at the Tannery and to Viva and GO at the Eagle Street bus terminal.

The investment in modernizing our roads and revitalizing Newmarket’s infrastructure will go a long way to making sure Davis Drive is built on a solid foundation that will serve the growing needs of Newmarket for many decades to come.

We’ve captured some of the pivotal moments during the year and compiled them in a video that introduces some of the notable changes to this important street.

Rapid transit is making it easier for people to move about York Region, connecting to the places, people and things that matter. With all the traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA], rapid transit provides an alternative which is a relaxing and time saving convenience.

So, whether you are travelling across town or across the region, the rapidway is the way to go, and the future is looking bright for Newmarket.

3 ways function will meet beauty this year on Highway 7 West

January 20th, 2016

Greenery red pavement paver stones

There is always a point in time every January when it seems like the bitter wind and frozen ground will never give way to gentle breezes and fresh green grass.

If you’re having one of those moments, here are three things to look forward to this year, after winter is over – in particular, three features of the rapidway project that match function with beauty.

Here are three functional, attractive developments you will see happen on Highway 7 West in 2016:

1. Sidewalks, beautiful sidewalks

Want to be the first person to ever walk on sidewalk on Highway 7 all the way from Jane Street to Keele Street? This is the year you’ll be able to do so, for the first time in Highway 7’s history. Those sidewalks will also be beautiful to walk on, with gorgeous paver stones. If you need to look at a sample of what’s to come, you can check out the already installed sidewalk on the north side of Highway 7 between Jane and Creditstone, along Highway 7 East in Markham, and on Davis Drive in Newmarket.

2. Greenery

Concrete planter boxes are being constructed in the centre of the rapidway and along the sidewalks. This spring, they will be filled with nutrient-rich soil and planted with a carefully curated selection of trees, bushes and plants. Highway 7 West will turn green!

3. The iconic red pavement

This is the year you’ll get to see that glorious red asphalt appear along the newest rapidway on Highway 7. Suffice to say, we get very excited about seeing this roll out, because it delineates the rapidway and because it looks so darn great. Once again, function meets beauty.

If you’d like to subscribe to email updates about the progress of the vivaNext project on Highway 7 West in Vaughan, click on this subscriber link, or go to our homepage at vivaNext.com and scroll down to “subscribe”.

Yonge Street >> the route to change

January 13th, 2016

Yonge Street >> the route to change

Yonge Street has a long and storied past as a hub for shopping, entertainment and culture along its full length. There are many examples of change and transition as you follow its route from the shores of Lake Ontario all the way north to York Region.

You’ll start to see another transformation this year in Richmond Hill and Newmarket as we begin work on a rapidway – dedicated lanes for Viva – along key segments of Yonge Street.

But how did we arrive at this plan? How does it fit in with the existing network?

There are many layers of planning that have helped develop our approach to meeting the transit needs of York Region and ensuring we’re ready for the increasing demand that comes with population growth.

It all stems from The Big Move, a plan by Metrolinx [a provincial agency] that outlines a vision for a connected transportation network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA], one of the largest and fastest-growing urban regions in North America.

Following Metrolinx’s plans, York Region’s Transportation Master Plan lays out the blueprint for addressing transportation and mobility needs of those living and working in York Region over the next 25 years. It plans for region-wide infrastructure that is welcoming to everyone, including drivers, transit customers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Out of that blueprint comes York Region’s Centres and Corridors Program. This plan identifies the key urban centres and corridors in York Region where new growth and development will be focused. These key urban centres are located in Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Markham, and Newmarket – and each of these municipalities have a need for managed growth and a connected transportation network for the future.

That’s where vivaNext comes in. We’re where the rubber hits the road, connecting urban centres along key corridors with fast, efficient rapid transit. We’ve done all the ground work, completing the comprehensive environmental assessments, reaching out to the community for input on the design, coordinating with the utility companies to adjust their infrastructure, and awarding the contract to get the job done.

We’ve already opened 8.6 km of rapidways on Highway 7 and Davis Drive, and we’re looking forward to the future transformation of Yonge Street.

To learn more about the Yonge Street rapidway and the construction activities ahead, visit our project page and subscribe for email updates.

 

 

winter scoop

January 6th, 2016

winter scoop

Winter may have been a little delayed this year, but judging from the frigid temperature outside… it’s here. Although our construction crews might not be able to continue to work in this cold weather, some work is still being done. Even in construction areas, winter maintenance and road clearing will still be done throughout the winter months.

All of our rapidway projects are at different stages, either open or underway. Each piece of each project is unique, and detailed designs are refined before we even get started on construction. Then there’s always coordination to be done with utility companies and municipalities, so we work on that ahead of time to help construction go smoothly in the spring. When a project is almost done, there’s a lot of technical testing, plus communications to local residents and commuters throughout the project’s life.

Even when things slow down due to the weather outside, we’re busy inside. Construction management teams are carefully scheduling work for 2016, and designers are completing detailed plans.

As snow falls outside, your local municipality [e.g., Newmarket, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham] will clear the sidewalks, York Region’s Roads branch is responsible for clearing the rapidway lanes [see their video!] and YRT/Viva operations staff look after the vivastation platforms.

We know that everyone wants to know what’s happening, so we’ll be sending out updates regularly. If you’d like to receive announcements and construction notices about work in your area, be sure to sign up for updates.  So… that’s the scoop for this winter – inside and out!

 

2015 >> what a year!

December 22nd, 2015

click here to see the Year In Review video

This was a landmark year, including opening an operations, maintenance and storage facility, the Davis Drive rapidway, and a park and ride lot in Newmarket. We’re at an important point with our rapid transit projects in York Region. All our funded projects are happening, and the results of the transformation are noticeable.

In November, the Davis Drive rapidway opened, connecting Newmarket east and west. Once sidewalks and landscaping are completed in 2016, Davis will have sidewalks lined with 470 trees and more than 21,000 shrubs and perennial plants.

Vaughan’s vibrant, new downtown is taking shape along Highway 7, with work continuing at a fast pace east of Jane Street on sidewalks, vivastations and landscaping. West of Jane Street, lanes have been shifted to their final configuration and work is being coordinated with the opening of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. The contract for the remaining rapidway along Highway 7 West in Vaughan was awarded in September, and utility relocations will begin in 2016.

On Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, utility work has begun and major road work will start in 2016.

The Highway 7 East project is now considered 100% complete, and has won multiple awards, including being listed as #2 in Road and Bridges Magazine’s Top 10 Roads list. Commute times are shorter on average, and the street is completely transformed from a highway with gravel shoulders, to a tree-lined street with wide sidewalks and accessible transit, welcoming to everyone.

In Richmond Hill, we opened an Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility to support the growing fleet of Viva vehicles, and this massive facility was built to LEED Silver standards. A park and ride facility also opened in Newmarket at Highway 404, with the launch of the Davis Drive rapidway.

It’s been a landmark year, and there is more rapid transit and more connections to come, in 2016 and beyond.

 

season’s greetings from vivaNext

December 21st, 2015

Click here to see our e-Card!

It’s the season for celebrating, and here at vivaNext we’re in the spirit.

Lots of progress has been made on our projects across York Region, and since we’re on a roll, we’re making a resolution to keep up the momentum in 2016! Our offices will be closed for a few days from December 25 to January 1, as we prepare to ring in the New Year with progress on our minds [see holiday hours for project info offices in Vaughan and Newmarket].

We hope you take the time to celebrate with family and friends, and have some fun. If you’re out celebrating, be sure to plan a way to get home. If you’re looking for a little challenge, try your skills with our online game.

Happy Holidays to everyone and a Happy New Year – see you in 2016!

 

subways? yes, our network will include subways

December 17th, 2015

subways? yes, our network will include subways

Rapid transit plans in York Region have always included subways, along with aboveground bus and rail. Each of these has different passenger capacities, construction costs, and impacts on surrounding communities, so plans include a combination of transit types, with a focus on having a seamless network.

As far as subway is concerned, we’ve been planning for the Yonge North Subway Extension [YNSE] from Finch Station to the Richmond Hill/Langstaff Urban Growth Centre at Highway 7. The YNSE is the missing link in terms of transit for the GTHA, because Yonge Street is the central transportation artery, and has been for generations.

Because it’s the missing link, we’ve been doing critical planning and engineering studies to ensure that we’re shovel-ready. The Environmental Project Report and Conceptual Design Study are complete, and in partnership with Metrolinx, TTC and City of Toronto, we completed a Yonge Relief Network Study [YRNS] to determine Yonge Subway capacity.

The YRNS concluded that the number of already committed/funded initiatives underway will increase the capacity of Yonge subway and divert existing and future riders to other corridors. These increases in capacity will accommodate growth until 2031, and offset the immediate need for the Downtown Relief Line until after 2031.

Metrolinx has recently recommended that we move ahead with completing 15% preliminary design for the Yonge Subway extension, so we’re working very hard on that. To advance the project even more, we’re advocating to the new federal government about their recent commitment to double infrastructure investments and transform transit and transportation systems ($60 billion in additional investments over 10 years).  With our shovel-ready projects in hand, we’re looking forward to the next wave of projects.

Combined with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, Regional Express Rail, new GO Train stations at Gormley and Bloomington and other transit projects, the YNSE will vastly improve the overall network for those who live, work and travel in York Region.

 

transit infrastructure >> on and off the roads

December 10th, 2015

transit infrastructure – on and off the roads

York Region’s transit operator, YRT/Viva, serves a huge region with a combination of conventional transit [the white buses traveling in and out of neighbourhoods], Mobility Plus, and Viva [the blue vehicles!]. The Viva fleet has grown to about 123 vehicles, stopping at over 100 curb-side stations and 15 rapidway vivastations.

With this type of growth, you can appreciate that there’s a need for some vehicle maintenance, storage and staff offices. You can also imagine that with the Viva Network Expansion Plans, set to expand service in York Region, there will be even more of a need to connect passengers with convenient terminals and park and ride lots.

When the Viva system was being planned, we saw the need for these facilities and terminals too, so we made sure our To Do list included an Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility [OMSF] in Richmond Hill, passenger terminals in Markham and Vaughan, and a series of park and ride locations.

The OMSF opened for service in Richmond Hill in July, and we’re proud to say it was built to LEED Silver standards, with energy efficient and environmentally friendly features – a remarkable accomplishment for a 481,679 square-foot facility.

We also opened a park and ride facility at Davis Drive and Highway 404 in Newmarket along with the opening of the Davis Drive rapidway. The next park and ride location is planned in Markham near Warden and Highway 407.

A bus terminal in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre that will connect customers from TTC subway and bus rapid transit to YRT and GO bus service via an underground pedestrian walkway, is in the design phase

We’re also getting ready to award a design contract for a bus terminal near Cornell in Markham to help connect customers to transit and get to and from Markham-Stouffville Hospital easily.

Having facilities and terminals around the Region means our growing transit system will be well supported, and passengers will be well connected. These projects may not be on the roads, but they’re some of the most important parts of York Region’s transit infrastructure off the roads.

 

what’s behind the numbers on Highway 7 West

December 7th, 2015

click here to see the video: fun facts - vivaNext in Vaughan

It’s been a busy year along Highway 7 in Vaughan. We thought you’d like to see a glimpse at some of what’s been accomplished in 2015 and a few snapshots of what’s to come.

In this video, you can check out some of the stages of work behind road widening, vivastation canopy creation (in case you weren’t driving by while it was happening), the expansion of the CN MacMillan Bridge, a whole host of retaining walls – plus a whole lot of greenery to be planted in the spring.

There are “tonnes” of information and stories behind the fun facts on Highway 7 in Vaughan!

Click here to subscribe to email updates about the progress of the vivaNext project.